26 Feb 2016
Going into the final round of Soffe Cup competition, three teams (Oakura, Huatoki and Pukekura) are assured of a semi-final spot and they will be playing for home advantage. The final semi-final spot is still very much up for grabs between Rotokare and Stratford whilst Okaiawa/Manaia would have to have a large win and hope other results went their way.
Oakura have just a half point advantage in the Soffe Cup lead and they will host Stratford. Graeme Mitchell, Brady Simpson and Craig Waite should win without too much trouble for Oakura in the No.1, 2 and 4 spots against Andy Roberts, Bruce Cleland and Michael Boland but the Len Adamson / Grant Kite match could go either way. The ladies No.1 match could be the match of the day between Oakura's Bailey Bruckner and Lyn Stanners for Stratford. Both are evenly ranked and they haven't met before in competition. Oakura should pick up wins at 2 and 4 with Jackie Keenan against Mylie Thwaites and Poppy Mitchell over Katie Boland. Again, the No.3 match between Chris Davies and Reagan Boland is a close matchup. Overall, Oakura should be able to notch about a 12-4 victory.
Second-placed Huatoki have a formidable line-up again this week when they host Pukekura. Ajeet Rai will have no trouble winning at No.1 for Huatoki regardless of the opposition. The remaining line-up for Huatoki are Jayden Harrison, Murray Keast, Alistair Nairn, Hikaru Han, Tracey Old, Ellen O'Byrne and Chris Wilson. Pukekura have not submitted their team for the match but regardless of who plays, expect Huatoki to have a resounding win and to make a push for the Soffe Cup minor premiership.
Rotokare host Okaiawa/Manaia and will be looking to hold their fourth place overall so that they can make the semi-finals for the first time in several years. Rotokare will be strong at the top of the men's order with Malcolm Elder and Kyle Crowley taking on Vince Baylis and Ryan Stockman respectively. Shane Devlin at No.3 will have a battle with the combined side's Josh Murdoch and Ben Fitzgibbon will be too strong for Andrew Baylis. The ladies line-ups are intriguing with Okaiawa/Manaia ranked higher on paper but Rotokare having possibly the better results on the court. Rotokare's Tania Atkinson will take on Catherine Blom in the No.1 match, with Blom making a comeback after a 5 year hiatus. Chantelle Peters moves up the Rotokare rankings to No.2 and she will take on Lauren Fraine, with the latter expected to win. Helena Goodin and Brittany Carr round out the Rotokare line-up and they will have close matches with Carolyn and Georgia Jackson. Rotokare should run out winners but will be looking to secure more points than Stratford in their match.